Maiden Speech from Mary Macleod

A potted history of Brentford & Isleworth, with nylons, Brompton, Turner and Hogarth

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Rt Hon Mary Macleod MP

Mary Macleod

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I, too, welcome you to your new role, Mr Deputy Speaker, and thank you for coming to speak to me prior to your election.

I am grateful for the opportunity to make my maiden speech today in this historic Chamber in a debate on poverty, a subject about which I feel strongly. I listened with interest to the comments of my hon. Friend Craig Whittaker as he spoke with real passion about his constituency and about poverty.

Most importantly, I thank the people of Brentford and Isleworth constituency for giving me the privilege of representing them. I follow in the footsteps of distinguished politicians including Sir Harold Paton Mitchell, Lord Hayhoe and Nirj Deva. I should today like to acknowledge the work of my recent predecessor Ann Keen, who served Brentford and Isleworth for the past 13 years. She was a well-known MP, had the support of many constituents and was well regarded for her experience in health care. I am also very grateful to the many people who helped me along the way since I first stood for Parliament in 1997. Many who have helped me over the years are in the Chamber today, and I thank them for their support and guidance during my long journey to make it here.

I was delighted to be selected for the constituency of Brentford and Isleworth, because London is not only my birthplace-just across the river at St Thomas's hospital-but has been my home for the past 20 years. It is a creative, successful, diverse and stimulating place. It is, and will remain, a city of opportunity and dreams.

My constituency is just up-river from Westminster, in a beautiful part of west London. It starts at Chiswick and continues north of the river to Hounslow, winding through the historic towns of Brentford, Isleworth, Osterley and Syon. The constituency is an important crossroads for London, as it is where the River Brent meets the River Thames and where the Great West road meets the North and South circular roads. In ancient history, it was the meeting place for ancient British tribes, and it was where Caesar forded the river on his approach to London. We have more green parks than anywhere else in London, and we are also fortunate enough to have five heritage houses in the constituency.

The area is famous for its football and its nylons, its broadcasters and businesses, its brewers and the Brompton folding bicycle, its impresarios and inventors. Lubricated by some decades of Fuller's brewing, we are the silicon valley of west London with some of the most prestigious high-tech, media and pharmaceutical companies, such as GlaxoSmithKline, which is now prospering on Brentford's golden mile. I hope that the area, which was the motor of the new prosperity in the 1930s with Hoover and Gillette, will power the new economic era that this Government are eager to create.

The constituency has been home to many notable residents over the years, including the famous artists William Hogarth, Turner, Pope, Yeats and Vincent van Gogh. It is also home to Brentford football club, which is rightly proud of its ninth place in its first season in league one, although it is naturally aiming for the premier league. I am ever the optimist. The club has recently been awarded the prestigious community mark by Business in the Community-the first English football league club to be recognised with that award for its outstanding work in the community.

Multicultural and cosmopolitan, the Brentford and Isleworth constituency is a harmonious cohesion of communities and an example to the rest of the country. I am proud to represent such a diverse and historic constituency. It is a place that demonstrates what London is all about and has a history almost as exciting as its future. It is a unique and vibrant place that people travel to and through, and preserving the balance of those two groups is vital. I am delighted that both the Prime Minister and the Mayor of London have supported the campaign against the third runway, and have already delivered on that election promise. Quality of life is something that should be above politics. I hope that all my election promises will be as easy and quick to implement.

At the election, my constituents voted for change, and this Parliament represents the biggest change in Members for many years. It is a new Parliament in more ways than one. It must adapt to changing times and adopt different methods. If it is new politics, it must also be genuine change. Let us be the change that we want to see in the world.

I am sure that most hon. Members would agree that we need to rebuild trust in politicians. To do this, this place needs to be representative of the communities it serves. In one important respect, this House has further to go. Women remain a minority in this place, but are a majority in the country. That cannot and should not be the case. For many years I have been, and will continue to be, an advocate of encouraging more women into politics, irrespective of their views. Imagine how different the world would have been if another woman, in another London seat and in another time, had decided that the odds were insurmountable. Small in number we may still be in this House, but there is an old saying in business-"If you want a job done well, give it to a busy woman."

Our task in this House is not only to rebuild people's trust in politics but to rebuild the economy. We face many and significant challenges as we attempt to tackle the national debt and set our country firmly on the journey to recovery and prosperity that we all want. We must do that if we want to address poverty. We now have a coalition Government to lead us through these difficult times. I hope that all hon. Members will do everything in their power to put country before party and work together to find the right solutions. These are the things that not only unite us as politicians, but as people. I wholly endorse the coalition and the work that needs to be done together for the sake of the nation, but I will also never forget that I was elected as a Conservative. I will stay true to the principles and values that I hold dear and that I know will help this House in bringing about the changes that are needed in the years ahead. We cannot be less than what we are.

As a coalition, we may have to make decisions that are unpopular, but the measure of a politician is not popularity, but the great and good causes they fight for. At the heart of why hon. Members are here in this Chamber today is a vision of a different world-a world in which children can aspire and succeed whatever their background may be; where those who are ill or infirm are supported, helped and cared for; and a world in which people have aspirations to be the best and can achieve their goals and dreams. It is a world with compassion for those in real need. That is what I want to bring to this great country of ours, and I will spend every moment on these Benches seeking to deliver it, locally and nationally.

Our debate on poverty today addresses these issues. First, I wish to say a quick word about international poverty. As a former ambassador for ActionAid, I believe that whatever economic difficulties we face nationally, we must not neglect our responsibilities as a civilised nation to act to reduce world poverty. Hunger kills 3.5 million children every year-one every 10 seconds-and we must do all we can to end it.

Even closer to home, we have issues of poverty to tackle, and that is even more important now than ever before. I see that in areas across my constituency. Currently, 2.9 million children are living in poverty in this country, which prevents them from having the fair start in life that all children deserve. We will work to change this. I agree with the Minister of State, Department for Work and Pensions, my right hon. Friend Chris Grayling that our first task is to ensure that we give children the best education possible and give them the skills that will make a real difference to their lives. After that, it is about cutting the deficit and creating jobs for the future, so that we can create a strong and stable future for us all.

Finally, we will face many challenges in the lifetime of this Parliament, and we must do so with the courage and energy of the new intake, allied to the wisdom and experience of experienced Members. As the new MP for Brentford and Isleworth, I will take on those challenges with enthusiasm, commitment and determination, and I will stand up for what I believe in and work hard to make a real difference to those in most need. Working together, we can achieve so much more and deliver real change for our country.

Reproduced from They Work For You

June 11, 2010